Monday, August 10, 2009

Unbelievable

I'm back at work, luxuriating in not blogging, and chatting online.

"Did you see the video of the guy that lands the airplane with one wing?" asks a non-pilot. He provides a link, but I'm too lazy to click it.

"The military jet?" I ask. "Those airplanes get so much lift from the fuselage that it's possible to do that." I realize how pretentious that sounds and add, "Not that I wouldn't lose control of an airplane like that with two wings."

(The six minute video documents an F-15 landing after a training accident that separated almost all of one wing).

"No," says the person. "It wasn't a jet. It had a propeller. It was at an airshow."

So them I'm thinking it's probably Kent Pietsch with his detachable aileron stunt. He has a dummy aileron, and a quick release to disconnect it, so it visibly falls of the airplane in flight. He also throws a wheel out of the airplane, and then lands on one wheel, the wheel facing towards the airshow viewers. It's also set up so the announcer is acting as though this airplane is not part of the show but has violated the NOTAMed off airspace due to its emergency. The first time I saw that stunt I got some shocked reactions from other airshow patrons because I was laughing at what they thought was a serious emergency.

Finally I click the link.

The video is shaky airshow spectator footage showing an aircraft doing a low an over. It pulls up, one wing separates, it comes in and out of frame a few times then makes a knife edge approach, weight opposed by the thrust of the propeller and lift generated over the fuselage. I'm thinking, "The pilot is going to survive this!" Theres a moment of blur and then the airplane is on the ground, on the wheels. A member of the ground crew runs up and the video ends.

Whoa! When did this happen? Why have I not heard of it? Who is the pilot? I found more information at AvWeb.

So it was a good fantasy. Fun to imagine having the skill, power, presence of mind and luck to pull that off.

12 comments:

amulbunny said...

Did you see the pictures of the mid air collision in NYC yesterday where the wing was sheared off? I can't imagine the terror in those last moments.
Nice to see you back.

GreenPilot said...

good work! thanks for sharing the videos...

Aviatrix said...

I didn't see photos, just YouTube videos of a news conference and of an eyewitness account.

That's when you want the fantasy of landing an airplane safely with one wing to be true. Landing a helicopter with a destroyed main rotor requires an even more active imagination.

Curiously, an eyewitness from Texas speaking to an American media outlet estimated his distance from the collision in metres. I guess he's a scientist.

Geekzilla said...

Great to see you back, Aviatrix!

Altered videos are everywhere these days. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.

Helicoptors frighten me. I fear them.

Aviatrix said...

There's more on this one-wing landing. It's a much more elaborate set up than one video.

There's an interview with the alleged pilot, whose personal website lists 2008 airshow and racing engagements. They're all real airshows, but he's not listed on the schedules I can find as a performer. His website lists actual Red Bull race results to twelve places and then names him underneath each as either "disqualified" or as having come some place below those listed, e.g. 14th or 24th. Catch is, the 2008 Red Bull race field was twelve pilots and their planes. The official results are not the top twelve. They're ALL twelve. Clever little ruse.

I know I'm falling into the marketing trap by paying this much attention to it, but you might guess I have some fascination with the concept of the internet identity.

Geekzilla said...

It's a fraud!

Aviatrix said...

Geekzilla, I can't tell from your three word comment whether you are echoing the blog post or positing a fraudulent debunking of a real event.

Geekzilla said...

Apologies for my curtness.

I'm thinking "THE best ever plane crash save" video is a fraud. "The Big Hoax: Aircraft Loses Wing, Lands Safely" video pretty much dissects it completely.

But it was entertaining - thanks for the post! :o)

Aviatrix said...

Now I'm thinking, based on Geekzilla's need to tell me what s/he's thinking, that by paying this much attention to the hoax I've confused some readers into thinking that I think it might be real.

It is a hoax, no doubt, but it's fun to watch, and I'm just having a good time looking at the extent of the hoax. Lots of people make altered videos. But how many concoct a fictitious person with his own website, hire an actor to play him in an interview, and insinuate him into numerous real-life events?

The gallery on his site could be done better: he's just shown walking around an airshow. They should have got/photoshopped a shot of him posing with some instantly recognizable performer like Julie Clark.

One thing that's missing, that would have made untangling the hoax more interesting would be if they had a number of either fake blogs (or secretly recruited real bloggers) to put up fake postings about having met him/seen him at an airshow. Then when you googled his name you would find "evidence" that he was in such and such an air race or air show.

His description of landing is somewhat like that of a student pilot. They get close to the ground and turn it over to religion. But the advertiser had even worked that into his backstory, making him a Christian-advocate aerobaticist. "It's about faith," being his tagline.

So it's an entertaining hoax that continues to entertain me. Here's a similar landing done with an RC model, but it ends with a noseover and a propstrike.

There's even an analysis on how well the marketing campaign worked.

I apologize if the posting left the veracity of the story ambiguous.

John Lennerton said...

Welcome back, Aviatrix. I hope you recharged your batteries enough to face the workaday world once again.

dpierce said...

Tonight, on the Discovery Channel in the US, at 2200 Eastern, one of the topics of the new show "Is It True?" is "one wing landings".

dpierce said...

And sure enough, this particular hoax was covered in the aforementioned show. A whole 30 min segment on busting it.